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How To Perform A Patch Test

Updated: Sep 4, 2022

We all react to natural and synthetic ingredients in different ways. When using an essential oil, blend or natural product containing essential oils for the first time, it is suggested and advised that you perform a simple Patch Test before use, especially if you have never used natural products, or a particular blend of essential oils before. In fact, I suggest we do this for any new product we are using, natural or synthetic/pharmaceutical.

While we may be aware of or used certain oils before, combining essential oils can create sensitivity issues for anyone, ...even people who seem to have the constitution of a rhino. Also, be aware that 'drop size' changes with viscosity. If an oil is thick it will produce a large drop. If it is of a thin consistency the droplet will be smaller, but, it will also run out of the bottle quickly. For this reason I suggest using a pipette (available here) or buying a sample bottle first. Each of the sample bottles have a reducer plug to help you get 'just one drop' out for testing and using. You can purchase a blending pack of 3 x 3ml amber bottles with reducers and 3 x 1ml pipettes so you can have trials of certain oils or blends in carrier oils.

The process is incredibly simple to do.

For Adults

Soak a cotton tip (Q-tip /cotton bud) with a drop or two of the oil or blend you are wanting to test. Apply the cotton tip to the skin on the middle of the inside of the forearm, slightly above the wrist but well below the elbow pit.

(Why here? Because it is usually not exposed to sunlight during the day so you can do your Patch Test in the morning and go about your day without exposing the oil to direct sunlight. If you know you are going out in the sun for prolonged periods of time I suggest doing the test in the evening. Some oils can cause photosensitivity and burn even the most robust skin.)

Paint on the blend so that you cover a spot about as big as your thumbprint. Avoid washing this area for up to 6hrs and if possible a full 24 hrs. Observe the skin condition and any changes in colour or texture of the skin. Noting any irritations like itching or rash forming. If any nausea, headaches, auditory interruptions or negative respiratory reactions are experienced, wash off the blend with cool water immediately and discontinue use. (seek health advice from your trusted practitioner if required) If there are no allergic symptoms, signs of sensitivity or overt skin reactions, your Patch Test has confirmed that this blend is safe to use on your skin. Sometimes we can build up a sensitivity to certain ingredients, so it is always advised you maintain awareness of how you are reacting and enjoying your natural blends.

For Children (and Adults with known sensitivities)

As for Adults, but always blend a drop of the product to be applied with 5ml of a safe carrier oil like Jojoba, Olive, Coconut or Macadamia Nut.

Children up to the age of approximately 13 years can have far more sensitive skin than an adult or adolescent, and need to have a Patch Test for all skin applications...natural or synthetic/pharmaceutical.

For Infants

As for Children, but apply the Patch Test blend to the outside of the ankle to avoid an infant sucking on the blend (and it is easy to wash off quickly if you DO notice any irritation). Also, use twice the amount of carrier oil to a drop of the product to be tested.

Infants up to 3 years of age may be extremely sensitive to certain ingredients. I advise that all natural and synthetic products undergo a Patch Test before use.

If you have any questions please contact me for more information.

If you have any questions, at all, always ask them before putting something on your skin.



This is an updated and edited version of the original post published in 2017.

You are welcome to download the chart below and keep it on file for quick reference.

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